Horror, Sci-Fi, Fantasy… Black Girl Magic Lit Mag is a literary magazine created to address the lack of diverse, non-majority voices and characters in speculative fiction, especially Black women’s voices. Black Girl Magic Lit Mag believes that by showcasing stories featuring Black female voices and characters we can create a reflection of ourselves in the literature that we love, in a world where our images are constantly controlled, shaped, and distorted by those outside of our experiences.
This issue contains four original story and one reprint.
Genre: Young adult, Fantasy, Horror, Sci-fi
I previously said in my review of Black Girl Magic vol. 2 that the second issue was my favorite. Well, I can officially amend that statement and officially declare the volume 3 is absolutely my fav and absolutely – *ahem* – lit! The wonderful thing about working on a literary magazine – as I can attest, having worked on a student curated magazine during undergrad – is that though you might start off a little shaky, you manage to learn how to pull through with better and better content the longer you work. While volume 1 and 2 had editorial issues and sometimes had me struggling to keep interest, I found that reading through this issue was much like falling in love; only wanting to keep going deeper and deeper until I was too hooked to quit.
Like the previous issue of Black Girl Magic, volume three features several short stories by black writers, and a spotlight for an up and coming black novelist. The new addition is that this time we are getting an excerpt of a soon to be release full length novel, To Find You, by Cerece Rinnie Murphy. I’ll be going through each short story in this review to discuss my first reactions.
Upon reading the title of this short story, the great Zora Neale Hurston came to mind immediately, and as confirmed by the interview with author Tonya Jones, she was indeed making a wink at the famed novelist. This is the shortest out of the stories in the book, and probably the one that I saw the most unused potential in. It’s a simple story of a woman attending her best friend’s funeral and having flashbacks of when they first met. While at the funeral, she’s visited by her friend’s ghost and told not to cry for her. I liked this one because it seems as though the author was hinting at more than just a friendship between these two, perhaps saying that our main character, Toya, was actually in love with Zora this entire time. If that’s cannon, I feel like that could have been a great way to expand the story and showcase the depth of their relationship, bringing more emotion to this scene. It sincerely felt as though this ended short of making me swoon over the story, but it’s still cute enough.
I usually can tell early on which one of these stories will be my favorite, but this one entered like a Trojan horse. It admittedly starts off somewhat confusing and slow, but as soon as I realized what was going on, I was loving everything about “Do Over.” Kimberly and her best friend Faith are on a mission to find the perfect alternate universe. Kim uses a magical hot comb to take her and faith through a mirror where they are greeted by a room full over other mirrors showing endless other universes. These ladies take us on a journey of unrequited love, lost, friendship, and self-worth. I’m honestly confident enough to say that thus far, this story is the one that I would have wanted to purchase when I was a teenage girl. From the sci-fi, time traveling grounding, to the romance, and the relatable friendships, author Melody Kay has made a story that most black woman can readily see themselves in. “Do Over” delivers it’s message without beating the reader over the head with it. If you don’t get this issue for any other reason, get it to read this!
If “Do Over” hadn’t been in this issue, this would easily have been my favorite story. Everything about “Sunshine” is so freaking powerful, it’s hard to write about it all in one short paragraph. This is the story of Geraldine, a woman who is able to harness the power of any star, and who currently uses the sun as the source of all her magical powers. She’s also plagued by demons who wish to see her die so that they can add her to their army and use her powers for their cause. Geraldine has been incarcerated because she killed her friend during an event when one of these demons tried to destroy her, and now her day to day life is filled with fighting off the white guards who are frequently possessed by the demons. I love what author Nicole Givens Kurtz does to tell a story not only of black women who literally are made from and strengthened by the light of stars, but also of the realities of our world and the hundreds of black women and men being attacked and killed while in prison. It’s so artfully and powerfully spun that I’m likely to be sharing this not only with my friends, but all of the older family members that I have.
“She Wonders While She Waits”
This by far has to be the one that’s most challenging to read, not because it’s not good, but because it’s written in a much more poetic way than the other short stories in this issue. Author Adrienne Wallace draws from her own relationship with her niece to tell the story of an aunt and niece growing and changing together as black woman. It’s the story of stepping in as a second mother, and watching a girl who was once your baby turn into a young woman, and seeing her go through the same challenges you yourself also went through. I think this is perfect for any women who have a close knit family where they are often acting as the second parents to their siblings kids, or even for parents in general, because it speaks to perfectly about what it’s like to want the best for your young ones, but not being able to control what happens to them. Definitely a sentimental read.
Besides everything I’ve already mentioned, I like that this issue feels more organized, as the editors have switched from having the interviews and stories jumbled together, and have given the fiction and interviews their own sections. This is absolutely worth every bit of the 3 dollars that came out of my pocket! These ladies continually make me proud and hopeful that more black writers will produce and be recognized for their wonderful stories. If you haven’t gone and gotten an issue yet, you absolute should right now! Do not keep missing out on all this beautiful black girl magic.
About the Founder
Nicole Williams lives and writes in a quaint town in the Shenandoah Valley with her husband and three wonderful sons. She has been writing since the day her mother handed her a crayon, but has only started publishing her work in 2012. When she is not writing, she is either reading a good book or chasing after her boys.